Though Puffabellys' menu clearly states it opened in 1995, the restaurant carries an ambiance and a history evocative of a much older establishment. Initially housed in an old train depot that was relocated from Lovelady, the eatery burned completely to the ground five years after opening. The original structure was completely unsalvageable, but reclaimed materials were collected so that the new structure would echo the personality of its ancestor.
Today, aged tin signs for train lines and ice cream bedeck a dining room where weathered tin cans brimming with peanuts sit on each table. Diners crack the nuts' salty shells as they await plates of fried catfish or the eatery's popular fried green tomatoes. A selection of 10 open-faced burgers exposes steamy layers of shredded cheese with bacon or jalapeños, effectively forcing sandwich picks into early retirement. On Wednesday nights, live music plays during the Songwriter Showcase.
The seasoned chefs at Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet whip up unlimited portions of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine seven days a week. Partnered patrons survey the robust buffet to plot their takeover of fresh, house-made bread sauced with hummus or baba ghanouj, a roasted and seasoned eggplant purée. Endless supplies of savory entrees silence even the chattiest tummies with chicken kebabs and baked-fish-shaped pacifiers. Diners not on speaking terms with salt may opt for Dimassi’s spinach baked with chickpeas, onions, garlic, and cilantro, and herbivores can nosh on an assortment of seasoned veggies or a greek salad with feta, olive oil, and aged balsamic vinegar. Dining duos toast to the possibility of falafel shot put becoming a common party game with unlimited glasses of iced tea or soft drinks. Fistfuls of jam cookies or ladyfingers with walnuts, sugar, and rose and orange water give meals a delicately sweet sendoff.
Ellen's Cafe embodies the warm Texas-small-town spirit of Old Town Spring with its cheerful staff and menu of made-from-scratch classics. Owner Ellen Saxe can often be spotted bustling about the restaurant, greeting customers and guiding them toward tables in the bright-yellow dining room or out on the sunny front porch. In the kitchen, her husband and head chef, Alan Saxe, captains a kitchen crew as they whip eggs into five types of quiche and assemble freshly baked breads into hearty sandwiches that have been lauded by the Humble Observer. Meanwhile, pots of the soup of the day bubble on stovetops as housemade pies and cobblers rise in ovens. The husband-and-wife duo peddles their own fudge and old-fashioned ice cream, crafting all their products themselves rather than commissioning teams of tree-dwelling elves to mass-produce them.
It started with a single sound—the sizzle of eggs as they hit the bacon-greased iron skillet. And with that, an 8-year-old Chef Ambrose stepped into the culinary arts, going from a kid helping his dad with barbecue to a chef with two gold medals from Culinary Institute LeNôtre. At Just Burgers, Chef Ambrose lends his culinary expertise to hamburgers he sculpts fresh daily, grilling and sandwiching each Black Angus-beauty on a choice of a ciabatta, wheat, or the popular pretzel bun, which often sells out nightly. He also dresses each one in fresh toppings, along with occasional organic goodies gleaned from visits to the farmers' market. Running a BYOB establishment, Just Burgers' team members charge no fees for uncorking wine bottles or prying off beer caps with their teeth.
At Red Dot Cuisine, crabmeat cocktails garnished with mango caviar arrive at tables with an unexpected twist: the cocktail glass serves as the top of a mini fish bowl, with an actual goldfish inside doing laps. It's just one of the creative touches that make Red Dot's upscale bistro into a dining experience. The bar, lunch, and dinner menus combine Indian and American cuisine elements, yielding dishes such as the tandoori turkey panini with cranberry-flavored mayo. Specialty cocktails such as lychee martinis and tamarind mojitos complement meals, and an eclectic roster of desserts includes raspberry chocolate cake and fried Oreos with Shiner Bock ice cream.
Gatti's Pizza paints its signature crust of twice-risen dough with sauce made from a 40-year-old recipe passed down by the founder, Colonel Eure, who started the pie hub's first location in 1969. Real cheeses combine into a unique, smoky blend, forming a flavorful foundation dotted with toppings such as spicy italian sausage, pineapple, pepperoni, and shredded napkins. The menu trots out 10 specialty pies?including the bacon double cheeseburger, the Gatti's Deluxe, and the Superoni, which offers extra helpings of smoked provolone and pepperoni?as well as desserts in the form of cinnamon sticks and dutch apple treat pizzas.